All About the Food(ie Books): “This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?” by Patrick Di Justo

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a voracious reader. So when I came across something called Blogging for Books, I was all over that! Especially once I realized that they had books about food, that I could get for free. FREE BOOKS ABOUT FOOD! Basically my dream, because a) books and b) food.

I’m a hardcore bookworm. I can easily read a couple of books in an evening, and often do. While I’m not a speed-reader, I think my record to date for reading a book is 45 minutes for a pocketbook paperback. Which is actually pretty darn fast!

That said, it took me a couple of weeks to get through this book, mostly because I was just reading it whenever I took public transit anywhere. It’s so easy to pop my little e-reader into a purse and then pull it out. Definitely less bulky than carrying a paperback around. Although…I confess to actually preferring paperbacks. I just seem to absorb them differently, you know? I remember what was on which side of the page, and I think that helps me remember things better. But maybe I’m just a visual learner.

This ties into the book that I was reading, which was “This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth: From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets of What’s Inside Everyday Products”, by Patrick Di Justo.

The version that I was reading was apparently an uncorrected proof, and didn’t have any pictures, although it did refer to illustrations. I wonder whether the fact that it was an uncorrected proof affected the layout of the book as well, because the version I got was pretty awful. Very disorienting to the reader, with oddly placed sidebars. I’m sure if I saw the final version, or a paper version, I’d have a different reaction, but on that alone, I’m giving the book a bit of a thumbs down. Which is too bad, because there’s so much great information in it!

The author talks about what goes into the food that we eat such as Cool Whip, Hot Pockets Pepperoni Pizza, and Red Bull, as well as what ingredients are in some other household products like Axe Deodorant, Febreze, and Play-Doh. I have to say, I’m not a big eater of processed foods, so I don’t think I actually eat any one of the foods that he wrote about. Still…it’s interesting to note what makes up the food that I DON’T eat! (Side note: This is why I’m all about the home-cooked whole foods. Most of the time, anyway!)

There’s one more criticism that I have to level about this book, and that is that it’s unclear whether some of the items that he lists are actually ingredients or just component parts. Take coffee for example. He writes about “coffee”, and lists all these different chemicals, including putrescine and 2-ethylphenol. It’s unclear though – does each coffee company put those chemicals into the coffee, or are those just the chemical breakdown of a coffee bean? Because anything is going to sound horrible if you list all the chemical components of it. Even the most organic of whole foods will sound gross if you chemically analyze it. Upon rereading, it becomes clear that he is indeed talking about the chemical breakdown of coffee, as opposed to a certain brand, but it’s not immediately obvious.

For some items that he talks about, like Cool Whip, it’s very clear that he’s talking about the ingredients, and it’s fascinating! I love that he talks about the “Backstory” of how he got the scoop on that particular item. When he talks about googling old ads from 1956 to get the original ingredient list for A1 Steak Sauce you realize how dedicated to his craft he is, and well, it’s just plain fascinating!

Would I recommend this book? Well, yes, but with reservations. One, read the book in paperback, so that the awkward spacing is fixed. Two, be aware that while he writes about the component parts of items, those aren’t necessarily the ingredients, but the, well, component parts. And once you know that…enjoy! You’ll never look at these items the same way again!

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Btw, a disclaimer: the picture of the book at the top of the post? It’s an Amazon Affiliates link, meaning that if you click on it and end up buying the book, I’d get a small commission. I doubt anyone will use the link, but in order to be all ethical and stuff, I’m being totes transparent. Yay, ethics! Actually, the only reason I wanted to post the picture, is that I think people prefer posts with pictures, and I wanted to get be able to legally use the image. I thought about just taking a picture of my e-reader, but that’s kind of hard to do, and also, booorrrrrring! Anyway, back to food, yummy food! And tomorrow’s post.

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Next Post: Memories of Meals Past, in this case, last Saturday’s brunch – French toast from SUPER-scratch!

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